KONAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Army 1st Commando Brigade, located on Camp Morehead, is a force to be reckoned with on all levels.
In just under five years since the brigade’s creation, its unique operating force, the Afghan National Army commandos, have proved themselves as an elite fighting force.
The commandos, which are hand-picked soldiers from the Afghan National Army, are trained by coalition special operations forces to become a quick reaction force and ready to conduct an operation at a moment’s notice.
Commandos and ANA soldiers are driven by the same motivation: to serve their country. However, the way commandos conduct their operations is what sets them apart. The quick reaction missions the commandos are renowned for, often last only a few hours, and are performed under the cover of darkness and without warning.
One recent operation conducted by the commandos helped shape the environment for village stability operations in southern Konar’s Chowkay district. The commando ground assault force infiltrated an area where local Taliban insurgents were believed to be hiding. With minimal participation from their partnered coalition special operations forces counterparts, the commandos were able to secure the high ground around the Chowkay area, providing security over-watch and clearing major insurgent infiltration routes.
The operation also gave the commandos a detailed survey of the surrounding area, including possible insurgent fighting positions, as identified by AK-47 shells, cave locations, and insurgent areas of movement. This information will be significant to future commando operations within Konar province, as it gives the Afghan forces insight to their enemy’s tactics, techniques, and procedures.
One key element in the commandos’ arsenal is one which requires no weapons or bullets, but is just as effective in countering the insurgency. After operations conducted near local villages, the commando forces conduct key leader engagements with the village elders and government officials. These key leader engagements provide insight to the local populace as to the intent of the commando operations, as well as giving the village leadership an opportunity to voice their concerns on security, governance, and development in the area.
“The commandos are the face of the Afghan populace,” said Lt. Col. William Linn, Special Operations Task Force-East commander.
Lt. Col. Linn also said the commandos’ tactics, techniques, and procedures are meticulous and calculated.
“There’s a reason why it takes [commandos] time to complete an operation,” Linn added. “They know they need to connect with the people and show them that they’re protecting their families and have their future safety in mind.”
The operation afforded the local populace a chance to witness their Afghan National Army forces conduct themselves as a capable and reliable fighting force, defending their village and providing an Afghan face for future security.